Bills Logo

Advice if Being Threatened with Repossession

Get rid of your debt faster with debt relief

Choose your debt amount

See if you qualify

Or speak to a debt consultant  844-731-0836

Mark Cappel
UpdatedMay 14, 2024

I need some advice as I am facing a repossession.

I am Facing a Voluntary Repossession. A lady from the Marshals office called me today saying that they would be taking me to court on Friday to take complete ownership of my car. She says that I can stop this if I comply and surrender the Vehicle. She says once I surrender the Vehicle I can then make my payments (2mths behind) and I can have my car back? They need to take pictures of the vehicle etc.. She says it will not be repossession and that if I agree to just surrender the vehicle she will have the account released back to chase JP Morgan. Is this true? I live in new jersey

The fact that the marshal’s office is calling you is a bit odd because auto lenders in New Jersey are able to repossess vehicles without legal process, as long as the repossession does not disturb the peace. For example, the repo man cannot force you out of your vehicle at gunpoint in order to take possession of the property; this is an extreme example, but provides a clear explanation of the type of action a creditor is prohibited from taking. If the marshal’s office is now involved, I would assume that the creditor has chosen to not proceed with "self-help" repossession, as non-judicial repossession is often called, and has filed suit against you for possession of the vehicle. While I am not very familiar with New Jersey law regarding the role of marshals in repossession proceedings, I would assume that a marshal, as an agent of the court, would not attempt to seize the property until the court enters a judgment against you and in favor of the lender. If a lawsuit has been filed against you, you should have been served with court documents, called a summons and complaint, stating the creditor’s claims and providing you with an opportunity to respond to and challenge the creditor’s statements. If you have not received a summons and complaint, or any other court documents, you may want to call your county court clerk’s office to inquire about any pending cases listing you as a defendant. For more information relating to New Jersey repossession laws go to the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission Web site.

One of the most common reasons that a creditor may file a lawsuit for the possession of a vehicle rather than proceeding with "self-help" repossession is that the creditor cannot locate the automobile. Many consumers who are behind on their car notes and who know that repossession is imminent will hide their vehicles to try to avoid repossession, as most people depend on the cars to go to work, to take their children to school, to visit the doctor, etc. Even if they cannot afford their auto payments, these people simply cannot get by day-to-day without a vehicle, and so therefore take extreme measures to keep their cars away from the repo-man. If the creditor cannot repossess the vehicle using "self-help," it may have no choice but to file suit against the borrower for possession of the property; if the court orders the borrower to surrender the vehicle to the lender, the borrower may be held in contempt of court if he fails to turn over the property. As I mentioned previously, you should call the court clerk in your county to determine if the creditor has taken any legal action against you. If you find that a suit has been filed, I would strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified attorney in your area to discuss your rights in this situation and what steps you can take to mitigate the potential problems caused by repossession.

As for the statement by the representative of the marshal’s office that once you surrender the vehicle, you can make two payments and the creditor will return the car to you, I have never heard of such a practice. Under New Jersey law, you have a right to "redeem" the property after repossession but before the vehicle is sold by the lender, but that would generally require you to pay the creditor the full balance owed on the loan, plus the repossession costs and reasonable attorney’s fees; this amount would clearly be much more than simply making two regular payments. To be honest, the person who called you sounds more like a collector than a marshal; I would not be surprised if the person calling you was simply a collector masquerading as a court officer in order to convince you to turn over your vehicle voluntarily. Call the creditor directly and ask them if the plan described by the woman who called you is an agreement that the creditor will accept. If you are able to reach a voluntary surrender agreement with the creditor, I strongly encourage you to obtain any terms or stipulations, such as your right to reclaim the property once you make two regular payments. Having a written agreement should give you the necessary documentation to prove your case if the creditor attempts to renege on the arrangement.

You should know that if you voluntarily surrender your vehicle to your lender, the loan will still likely be reported as a repossession on your credit reports, and could thus have a strong negative impact on your credit score. Also, if you are unable to redeem the vehicle, the creditor will probably sell the vehicle and apply the sale proceeds to the balance of your current loan. If the creditor sells the vehicle for less than what you owe, as usually happens, you may be legally liable for the amount remaining on your loan after the sale proceeds are applied to the debt. This type of debt is called a "deficiency balance" and it often serves as insult on top of injury for consumers who have recently had a vehicle repossessed. If you owe a deficiency balance after your vehicle is sold by the finance company, you will probably need to work out a plan to repay the debt; if you fail to do so, the creditor may pursue legal action against you to collect the remaining debt. Because of the potential credit impact and possibility of owing a deficiency balance, you should carefully consider all of your options before voluntarily surrendering your vehicle to the lender.

Before you make any further decisions about how you want to resolve the delinquency on your automobile, I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state to discuss the situation and the best available solution. I also encourage you to call the court clerk’s office in your county to determine if a lawsuit has been filed against you by your lender, so that you know what steps you need to take to protect yourself. For more information for consumers struggling with their bills, I invite you to visit the debt help page. I wish you the best of luck in resolving the delinquency on your vehicle, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.



Dealing with debt

If you are struggling with debt, you are not alone. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Quarter Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Student loan debt was $1.601 trillion and credit card debt was $1.129 trillion.

According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 10% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Connecticut, 22% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1427. Medical debt is common and 10% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $490.

Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.



BBrian, Jan, 2011
Car Payment AssistanceAuto Repossession. There are many options that you may not be aware of. When you buy a car, truck, or other vehicle on credit, you should be aware that, until you have made the last payment your creditor retains important rights in the vehicle. These rights are established by the contract you signed and by the law of your state. Your failure to make timely payments on the vehicle carries serious consequences. Your creditor will then have the right to "repossess" -- take back your car without going to court or, in many states, without warning you in advance.However, your creditor's right to repossess your car is subject to some limitations. In particular, state law places limits on how your creditor may repossess the vehicle and resell it to reduce or eliminate your debt. If any rules are violated, your creditor may lose other rights against you, or even be required to pay you damages.
BBill, Aug, 2010
Please read the resource Collections Advice and ask any follow-up questions you may have on that page.
qquing, Aug, 2010
my husband and i are facing this problem right now and we really need advice here-We decided to just self surrender our car because we cant afford it anymore and so we did and they put the car in auction and turned out we still owe them 5k and so i called them and made a settlement for monthly payments then i skip a month of payment and so now they put our balance to a lawfirm which i believe is also a collection agency and so when i spoke to the agent he asked me to give 1k down payment then we can settle the rest for almost $300 a month but i found it too much and its like paying a car loan and now the agent is telling me that if i cant make any payments,they will proceed any legal actions which he said can jeopardize my husbands job--im trying to research what we can do because first of all,we surrender the car because we cant afford it anymore and now they are asking us for this amount of money and my friends are telling me to just let it go and not pay for it since my husbands credit is already bad--What should i do?
JJess, May, 2011
Whatever you do, don't let it go. I have been in this situation and what happens is they take you to court for the remaining balance after they have taken the car and sold it at auction. When you don't make a payment on that court judgment then they attach your wages and take a total of about half your paycheck. Sure they can only garnish about 25% of your paycheck but once all the other deductions are taken out, like health insurance, tax etc, you are left with little to live on. Yes 300 a month is a lot of money but it will get taken one way or another. I have been living with a garnishment for 2 years because of my car that got repo'd and its been hell. At least it will be over soon.
BBill, Jan, 2009
Paying this settlement amount of 50% and closing the past due account will definitely help improve both your son's and your credit score. Just because the lender charged the debt off, does not mean that you do not owe the money anymore. Charge-off is just an accounting term used by creditors to classify their bad accounts. Make sure to ask for the settlement agreement in writing before you make any payments, and in that letter, ask them to specify that after the payment, the account will be reported to the credit bureaus as "Paid in full" with a zero balance.
BBill, Dec, 2008
No, even if you missed a payment once in the past and are now current, the lenders can still repossess because that one default was a breach of your contract, you should look into your contract for the exact terms.
LLiz, Dec, 2008
I have been given up to a certain amount of time to make a car payment or the bank is going to come and reposess my car. Is it true that long as I make any payment towards my car note that they can not reposess my car? I asked them to give me two more days which is my pay day and they said absolutely not. Help!